OTTAWA — A couple of exhausted teams took the Kingman Gymnasium floor Saturday afternoon.
However, the combatants were archrivals Ottawa and La Salle-Peru, so as was to be expected, a 32-minute battle ensued.
In a contest that featured eight ties and nine lead changes — four of each during the final quarter of action — the Pirates defeated the Cavaliers 49-42 in the fifth-place game of the 15th annual Dean Riley "Shootin' the Rock" Thanksgiving Tournament.
"It was pretty intense," said Ottawa 6-foot-4 junior post Zach Vogel, who scored 14 points (7 of 9 field goals) and blocked three shots during his initial Ottawa-L-P encounter at the varsity level. "I like playing in it for varsity a lot more than JV, because it's just more physical. But at the end of the day, it's still just Ottawa-L-P, one of our biggest rivals.
"We came out a little slow, but got the job done; we ended up winning. It feels really good to beat L-P. And I'm just looking forward to playing them again, in conference."
"I thought there were two tired basketball teams today at the end of the week (playing their fourth game) that were trying to fight through it for four quarters," said coach Mark Cooper, whose Pirates rallied back from a 10-point deficit in the third period. "We really had to grind the game out. Neither team shot the ball very well. (They combined to shoot 33.7% from the field overall and 15.2% from beyond the arc.)
"It was a game that could have went either way, and we were just fortunate to make enough plays late to separate the game.
"I thought we got really nice contributions from two of our juniors, Zach Vogel and (reserve guard) Levi Sholders (six points, eight rebounds); I don't think we get this win without either one of them today. Drew (Kaufman, 10 rebounds) rebounded the ball very well for us. (TJ McDonnell, who sank 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter) helped get us out of the gym today with a win."
A Vogel bucket 33 seconds into the fourth gave Ottawa its first advantage (30-28) since late in the opening stanza. The teams proceeded to exchange leads three times over the next three minutes, with L-P's last coming at the four-and-a-half-minute mark.
A 3-ball by Anthony Cooper (12 points) on the ensuing possession knotted things at 37 before McDonnell hit a pair of free throws to give the Pirates (2-2) an edge they wouldn't relinquish.
L-P's Tyler Hartman (14 points, 11 rebounds) quickly answered with a basket to tie it at 39, but Vogel and Anthony Cooper (runner banked in) immediately responded with hoops to make the score 43-39 with 2:30 remaining. From there, the Pirates sealed the deal from the charity stripe, knocking down 6 of 9.
Ottawa was 15 for 19 from the free-throw line for the game, including 10 of 13 during the final quarter.
The Cavaliers led 12-10 after one quarter and 21-14 at the half.
L-P (1-3) extended the margin to 10 points (26-16) three and a half minutes into the second half before the Pirates closed the third with a 12-2 spurt — five of those points (a 3 and layup in transition) courtesy of Sholders — to knot the contest 28-all through three periods.
"I think it was (an even) game both ways," Cavs coach Jim Cherveny said. "I thought we played really well the first half; I thought they played really well the second half.
"We can't allow a 10-point lead to slip in the second half. I mean, we've just got to play better. Our defense fell apart there for awhile."
The "W" capped off a week of growth for the Pirates, who had to take the court for all but a game-plus without veteran standout scorer Myles Tucker, who sprained his ankle in the first quarter of the second game.
"This is a tournament that's difficult to find wins," Coach Cooper said, "and I give our kids credit; we were able to get two throughout the week and had pockets of games where we did good things.
"We're trying to organically figure out where we are as a basketball team, and hopefully we know a little bit more about ourselves now than we did at the beginning of the week.
"Myles basically didn't play in the last three games, but it's good for our other kids ... and I thought a lot of our kids had a lot of growth, and we're going to have to be able to continue doing those types of things moving forward."
At Kingman Gym, Ottawa
Ottawa 49, La Salle-Peru 42
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
LA SALLE-PERU (42) — Scheri 3-5 1-2 8, Jereb 1-8 0-0 3, Lenkaitis 0-6 3-4 3, Hartman 6-11 2-5 14, Weber 3-13 1-2 7, Riva 1-3 0-0 2, Larson 1-2 0-0 3, Skinner 1-7 0-0 2, Kreiser 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-55 7-13 42.
OTTAWA (49) — Cooper 4-9 2-3 12, Kaufman 1-6 4-4 6, Roether 0-2 2-2 2, Vogel 7-9 0-0 14, McDonnell 1-6 6-8 9, Sholders 2-3 1-2 6, Evola 0-1 0-0 0, Vandervort 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-37 15-19 49.
L-P (1-3) 12 9 7 14 — 42
Ottawa (2-2) 10 4 14 21 — 49
3-point goals — L-P 3-25 (Scheri 1-2, Larson 1-2, Jereb 1-7, Hartman 0-1, Riva 0-1, Lenkaitis 0-3, Skinner 0-3, Weber 0-6); Ottawa 4-21 (Cooper 2-7, Sholders 1-2, McDonnell 1-5, Kaufman 0-4, Roether 0-1, Evola 0-1, Vandervort 0-1). Rebounds — L-P 34 (Hartman 11); Ottawa 33 (Kaufman 10). Assists — L-P 5 (Lenkaitis 3); Ottawa 14 (Kaufman 4, Roether 4, McDonnell 4). Steals — L-P 6 (Jereb 2); Ottawa 3 (Kaufman 1, Roether 1, Vogel 1). Blocked shots — L-P 1 (Hartman 1); Ottawa 3 (Vogel 3). Turnovers — L-P 7; Ottawa 10. Total fouls (none fouled out) — L-P 15; Ottawa 11.